Political News

Liberals and conservatives team up with far-right in Germany to oust left-wing state premier

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Liberals and conservatives joined forces with the far-right in the German state of Thüringia on Wednesday to oust a left-wing administration and install their own.

Thomas Kemmerich, of the liberal FDP, won a confidence vote in the state parliament with the backing of the centre-right CDU and the far-right AfD – a major political upset. 

The event is significant because it is the first time the two parties of the centre have violated the boundaries of the so-called “cordon sanitaire” around working with the AfD and other far-right parties.


They narrowly ousted leftist incumbent state premier Bodo Ramelow, who was backed by the social democrats, the Greens and his own Left party. 

Mr Ramelow’s alliance only gathered 44 out of 90 votes in the eastern German state’s parliament, while the FDP’s managed 45 seats with the backing of the far-right. 

German media reports that the “taboo-breaking” event is the first time in the history of the federal republic that a minister-president has been elected with the votes of the AfD.

The leftist incumbent Mr Ramelow had been widely expected to return to office at the head of a minority administration, after his party won an increased vote share at elections at the end of last year. The parties in his left-of-centre coalition had already picked ministers for their government.

Jörg Meuthen, AfD’s federal party chief celebrated the result, tweeting: “The first piece of the political turn in Germany: victory of the civic-minded majority! Congratulations to Thuringia!”

The local CDU branch has said that despite working with the AfD to install the new minister-president, they did not want to enter a formal coalition with the party.

“We decided to support the civic majority’s candidate,” said CDU local party leader Mike Mohring following the election. “It is crucial that Kemmerich makes it clear that there is no coalition with the AfD.”

Germany’s foreign minister Heiko Maas, from the centre-left SPD, however described the outcome of the election as “completely irresponsible”. 

“Against the AfD, all democrats have to stand together – if you don’t understand that, you haven’t learned anything from our history,” Mr Maas tweeted.

Left party chair Bernd Riexinger said the decision was “a taboo-breaker that will have far-reaching consequences”, adding that “the FDP and CDU have to explain this now”.

Thuringia held state elections in October. The Left party came top by a large margin, securing 31 per cent of the vote, up from 28 per cent in 2014. 

The AfD came second with 23.4 per cent, up from 10.6 per cent in the previous. The conservative CDU came third with 21.7 per cent, while the centre-left SPD came fourth with 8.2 per cent. 

The Greens and the liberal FPD only just managed to enter the state parliament, each winning around five per cent of the vote – the threshold for entry. But thanks to parliamentary shenanigans, the latter how finds itself leading the state’s government. 

Björn Höcke, the leader of the AfD in the state, is one of the most right-wing senior figures in the AfD. He has marched with neo-Nazis and calls Germany’s approach to commemorating of the Holocaust “moronic”. In September last year a court in the state ruled that Mr Höcke could be legally termed a “fascist”, stating that the designation “rests on verifiable fact”.



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Trump National Security Adviser claims antisemitism will drive new settlements in Gaza

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A top Donald Trump adviser has suggested rising global anti-semitism would force the expansion of the illegal Israeli settlements encroaching onto Palestinian territory. 

Robert O’Brien, the Trump administration’s national security adviser, was defending Mr Trump’s Middle East peace plan that was unveiled earlier this month during a meeting with other diplomats on Wednesday. 

Mr O’Brien said Mr Trump’s plan, while not perfect, was a good deal for the Palestinians and urged them to give their support. 


“This could be the last opportunity for a two-state solution,” Mr O’Brien said. “The Israeli birth rate is strong and is growing because sadly anti-Semitism in Europe and other places around the world is encouraging more Jews to return to Israel. The settlements are going to continue to expand. If this freeze on settlements doesn’t hold. If this peace process doesn’t work, it may be physically impossible to have a two-state solution.”

The Israeli settlements built in the West Bank have been largely condemned by the international community – and by Palestinians – as illegal. Mr O’Brien’s statements seem to paint the expansion of Israeli expansion into Palestinian territory as inevitable, which is in line with Mr Trump’s overwhelming support of Israel in matters of diplomacy. 

In 2017, Mr Trump recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel – a move that put him at odds with the majority of world leaders – and opened an embassy in the city the following year. 

Mr O’Brien’s argument that Israelis will inevitably overwhelm the Palestinians through reproduction and immigration also didn’t account for Palestinian birth rates exceeding that of Israel’s. The Associated Press reported the Palestinian population has been growing 33 percent faster than that of Israel.   

The language of ultimatum given by Mr O’Brien – “this could be the last opportunity” – echoes that of the architect of Mr Trump’s Middle East peace plan, his son-in-law Jared Kushner

In an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, Mr Kushner suggested if the Palestinians didn’t accept the offer they would be “screwing up” and would lose the sympathy of the global community. 

“The Palestinian leadership have to ask themselves a question: Do they want to have a state? Do they want to have a better life? If they do, we have created a framework for them to have it, and we’re going to treat them in a very respectful manner,” Mr Kushner told Ms Amanpour. “If they don’t, then they’re going to screw up another opportunity like they’ve screwed up every other opportunity that they’ve ever had in their existence.”

Mr Kushner defended the plan by citing his own “expertise” on the region, claiming he’d read 25 books and had been studying the 72-year-old conflict for three years. 

Mr Trump’s plan includes the eventual creation of a Palestinian state, but does so by forcing Palestinians to give up the West Bank land already occupied by Israeli settlers and to cede the agriculturally significant Jordan Valley – home to 65,000 Palestinians – to Israel. 

Palestinian leaders have been quick to voice their opposition to the plan, which Mr Trump touted as the “Deal of the Century.”

“After the nonsense that we heard today we say a thousand ‘no’s’ to the Deal of the The Century,” Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas said. 

Despite US insistence that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu proceed with plans for annexation slowly, Mr Netanyahu said he would vote on the issue at his next Cabinet meeting.





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Liberal German politician who became state governor with support of far-right announces resignation after just 24 hours in office

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A liberal German politician who was voted in as a regional governor with the support of far-right local MPs is resigning after just 24 hours in office, following intense criticism. 

Thomas Kemmerich of the Free Democratic Party said he had not cooperated with the far-right to become Thuringia state leader and wanted to remove the “blemish” of their backing.

Chancellor Angela Merkel said the installation of Mr Kemmerich with the help of the Alternative fur Deutschland party was “unforgivable”. She called on the decision to be reversed.


Speaking to the German press outside the Thuringian state chancellery, Mr Kemmerich said he wanted to call fresh elections. 

“Together with my colleagues, I decided to request the dissolution of the state parliament. We want to bring about new elections in order to remove the blemish of the AfD support from the office of minister-president,” he said. 

“Democrats need democratic majorities that obviously cannot be established in this parliament. There was no cooperation with the AfD, there is no such cooperation and will not exist.”

Mr Kemmerich said the AfD had “tried to damage democracy with a perfidious trick” by voting him into office. His opponents, however, said the move to use him to oust the left-wing incumbent administration had been planned in advance.

The new governor was also installed with votes from the FDP and the conservative CDU. The support of the AfD is a first in German politics, where cooperation with the far-right is usually considered off-limits.

Bodo Ramelow, the ousted governor, was backed by the social democrats, the Greens and his own party simply called Left.

The action promoted anger across the country and even internationally, with hundreds spontaneously showing up at the seat of regional government to protest Mr Kemmerich’s election.

Bjoern Hoecke, Alternative for Germany (AfD) party leader congratulates Free Democratic Party (FDP) candidate Thomas Kemmerich after backing him to lead the Thuringian state government (Reuters)

Online, the hashtag #FCKAFDP trended in Germany – a portmanteau of the word “f***” and the names of the liberal and far-right parties combined into one.

Astonishingly, Mr Kemmerich’s liberal party won just 5 per cent of the vote in the previous elections, clearing the electoral threshold for representation by fewer than 100 votes. It is not certain that they will return to parliament if fresh elections are held.

Mr Ramelow’s alliance gathered only 44 out of 90 votes in the eastern German state’s parliament, while the FDP’s managed 45 seats.

German media reports that the “taboo-breaking” event is the first time in the history of the federal republic that a minister-president has been elected with the votes of the AfD.

Mr Ramelow had been widely expected to return to office at the head of a minority administration, after his party won an increased vote share at elections at the end of last year. The parties in his left-of-centre coalition had already picked ministers for their government.

Jörg Meuthen, AfD’s federal party chief celebrated the result, tweeting: “The first piece of the political turn in Germany: victory of the civic-minded majority! Congratulations to Thuringia!”

At Thuringia’s state elections in October, the Left party came top by a large margin, securing 31 per cent of the vote, up from 28 per cent in 2014. 

The AfD came second with 23.4 per cent, up from 10.6 per cent in the previous. The conservative CDU came third with 21.7 per cent, while the centre-left SPD came fourth with 8.2 per cent. 



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